Sucharita Kodali, an e-commerce specialist at research firm Forrester, told me that Amazon may now be even more focused on AWS and fighting its muscular competitors in cloud computing, as well as tech-heavy parts of the company like digital advertising and hardware gadgets could. It might focus less on food or fashion. “CEOs have favorite children,” said Kodali.
Bezos is still a power on the throne, but … Bezos won’t be sitting at home and eating potato chips. His new job title starting this summer, CEO, implies he will continue to play a huge role in the company, and Amazon said he would be involved in important decisions. Jassy is steeped in Bezos’ Amazon brand, and institutions often have an inertia that persists no matter who is responsible.
But make no mistake: this is a changing of the guard, as my colleague Karen Weise wrote. Companies don’t stay the same when their founders no longer take responsibility. Amazon may still be Bezos’ company, but I’d bet it will get less over time.
(Read more about my friends’ Amazon messages in the DealBook newsletter and about Kara Swisher in the “New York Times Opinion” section.)
Goodbye or the long goodbye? There are two ways to quit the job as CEO: the former boss stays – at least for a while – to facilitate the transition and offer advice, or he disappears. Amazon does the former as does Disney and Oracle. Uber did the latter and Microsoft did one each.
It’s hard to know which path is best, but founders cast a long shadow. Google arguably suffered when its co-founder, Larry Page, stayed above bosses as an amorphous boss for years after leaving the post of CEO in 2015. When Satya Nadella took over Microsoft, it looked like his predecessors Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates would still be involved in decisions. It was better for him and Microsoft that they quietly step back instead.
Why now? Bezos is so admired that he could try his hand at side projects like space travel, buy a newspaper, play a part in a “Star Trek” movie, play badminton, and run Amazon any way he wanted. (One of the ones I made up.) Bezos says he’d like to pay more attention now to futuristic projects and his other interests, but Elon Musk has and has remained the CEO of Tesla.